Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Notes from Eve Abbey • February 2019

 We're 50!

Anne Summers’ new memoir, Unfettered and Aliveis an exciting memoir of a principled life. Proud Feminist, journalist, bureaucrat, media mogul and Chairman of the International Board of Greenpeace are just some of her adventures. Anne was head of the Office of the Status of Women in the Hawke Government and was later invited to be a policy advisor for Paul Keating, to encourage the votes of women.

Some thrilling stories of meeting the rich and famous in New York, or lunching in the White House with Barbara Bush, not least her Management Buy Out, with Sandra Yates in 1987, of the Ms and Sassy magazines. They were only the second women in America to achieve a Management Buy Out but soon faced impossible difficulties when a consumer boycott against Sassy magazine became very effective and most of the big advertisers cancelled their bookings. Ironically the offending material had come from Dolly magazine in Australia where it had raised no problems.

This is a frank and open story. Anne admits being a magazine editor was a great job as a magazine editor, like a ship’s captain, is one of the few places left where you can exercise absolute power! If you have already read the first part of her life story, Ducks on the Pond, or have read her famous first book Damned Whores and God’s Police you will know that she is an especially vivid writer.

Unfettered and Alive

With Australia Day for 2019 just behind usthere is a novel with the interesting title, This Imaginary Feeling of Being Australian. Written by Michael Nicholson, younger brother of the cartoonist on The Australian, this is a very amusing satire in which someone has ordered 150 submarines for the Government instead of 15! Australia has become a Naval Power, the Greens are swept into Government and Bob Brown is President.

This Imaginary Feeling of Being Australian

Are you enjoying the TV serial of Louisa May Alcott’s Little WomenI think it is lovely and went straight to the computer to make certain Abbey’s had stock. I found there were twelve different editions varying from inexpensive paperback through the classics to a large, illustrated hardback. Only at Abbey’s! Although it was written in 1857, the hopes and values in Little Women are still valid today.

Little Women

Enjoy, Eve

Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Friday, 4 January 2019

Notes from Eve Abbey • January 2019

 We're 50 this year!

I have already recommended to you the books written by newish Australian writer Jock Serong. First he wrote two thrillers called Quota and The Rules of Backyard Cricket and then On the Java Ridge, another thriller about asylum seekers and now he offers a terrific piece of historical fiction. It is called Preservation and is based on the wreck of the Sydney Cove which happened at the entrance to Bass Street in 1797.

The survivors from this wreck set off in a longboat to get help from Sydney but they were again shipwrecked. The survivors from this second shipwreck, including some lascars, then set off to walk 300 miles to Sydney. Only three people reached Sydney. One of these people published a diary of the trek which was published in a newspaper at the time.

Jock Serong has taken this epic story and with great care given us his version of the events. You can bet your bottom dollar this is thrilling but not a thriller. Wonderful characters include the earnest assistant to Governor Hunter who is deputed to find out the truth from the arrivals, and his self-confident wife, as well as the most evil baddie you can ever hope for.

Contact with the indigenous people is nicely handled and all ends well when a rescue ship is sent down to Preservation Island where the original survivors are still clinging to hope. This forgotten shipwreck will now be well-remembered I am sure.


Biologist James Watson, 1962 Nobel Prize co-winner with Francis Crick for discovering the double-helix form of DNA has been in trouble again over his views about racial intelligence. You can find his famous story about the decoding of DNA on the shelves at Abbey’s. It is called Double-Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA. Full of gossip and rivalry, this was a best seller for us at the time.

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

There was talk that they had used X-Ray photographs done by Rosalind Franklin, without her permission, and there was a book about this, Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA. Her family were involved with the firm of Routledge and Kegan Paul and I recall going to lunch with her brother who had come to Sydney to promote their books.

Rosalind Franklin

I’ve been to see Mary Poppins Returns and can assure you it is totally terrific. Indulge.

Mary Poppins

Abbey's Summer Reading 2018 Catalogue

Happy New Year,

Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Notes from Eve Abbey • December 2018

 We're 50 this year!

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone. I hope all goes well for you and that Abbey’s will see another Fifty Years contributing to the culture in Sydney.

Consider this new big book on an everlasting topic. It is Rome: Eternal City by Ferdinand Addis who studied Classics at Oxford and was a film-maker and journalist before he decided to be a historian. He chooses significant moments in Rome’s 3000 years of history and links these with a lively narrative so that he presents a history of Rome for a new generation of readers. When I tell you that the final scene is the opening of Fellini’s movie La Dolce Vita in1960 you will see he writes about both High Art and Low Life.

Put aside (for now) Edward Gibbons’ famous Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, available in Penguin Classics in various volumes or the 1 volume Abridgement. Addis' book is an easier companion if you are planning to visit the exhibition Rome and Empire in Canberra at the National Museum, which is on until 3rd February 2019. There is also an audio version of the Gibbon abridgement of Decline and Fall read by David Timson.

I think there are still fans around for the George Johnston and Charmian Clift saga. They will like a new book by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell. It is called Half the Perfect World: Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra, 1955-1964. Enjoy - and you can still buy a copy of My Brother Jack or Charmian Clift’s Mermaids Singing & Peel Me a Lotus at Abbey’s.

The Zig at Abbey's

I hope you are able to visit the shop, which is near the Town Hall, during the holidays. There are so many interesting books for you to choose from, not just the latest best sellers. Remember, if you are looking at Abbey’s lively database online, that you can choose to show only those books currently in stock if you click down the side.

Abbey's shopfront October 2018

Upstairs on the First Floor, Language Book Centre has DVD’s and both fiction and non-fiction in other languages as well as the usual 'teach yourself' text books. GALAXY Bookshop, also upstairs has an amazing array of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Paranormal Romance. They also have lots of puzzles, games, cards and POP! figurines. Ask a bookseller for advice if you are not a Sci-Fi reader yourself. There’s a lift in the foyer if you want to avoid the stairs.

Stormtrooper guards the stairway entrance to GALAXY

Abbey's Summer Reading 2018 Catalogue

Enjoy yourself, make book-buying your best good deed at Christmas,

Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Give Literacy this Christmas • Indigenous Literacy Foundation

 We're 50 this year!

Can you imagine your life without the pleasure of being able to read? Without being able to delve into a book and take in stories, ideas and knowledge outside of your own experience?

"It’s hard to believe but before we worked with the ILF, books were non-existent in the region. Often, the only translated text available is the Ngaanyatjarra Bible – and families aren’t necessarily going to sit down with their children and read that to develop pre-literacy skills. Without the support of the ILF we wouldn’t be able to translate books or even have the books in our classroom or children’s homes." Kiara Jones

Kiara is the Early Learning Educator at Blackstone and Jameson Communities in the Ngaanyatjarraku Shire in Western Australia. These communities are extremely remote, approximately 900 kilometres from Alice Springs and about 1,500 kilometres from Perth.

Happy learners

This Christmas, with your help, we aim to donate $5,000 to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

We now need only 1,000 more customers to give $2 each.

To make it easy, you can donate online at abbeys.com.au or donate in-store at 131 York Street, Sydney - next to QVB.

All those $2 donations will add up fast!

Young readers

ILF Volunteers

A big THANK YOU to all of you who have already donated.

Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Monday, 12 November 2018

Notes from Eve Abbey • November 2018

 We're 50 this year!

Rick Morton, journalist on The Australianhas written a searing autobiography about his childhood on an enormous pastoral station in far-west Queensland. Not easy reading but leavened by some very amusing insights.

His violent and tyrannical grandfather passed on his genes throughout the family. Morton now says he is a “middle-class man in a poor boy’s body”. If you want to understand what it is like to be poor in this country read this. It is called One Hundred Years of Dirt.

It is 250 years since Captain Cook set sail from England to enter the Pacific. There is a book which is a companion piece to a TV programme on Foxtel I think. It is called The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill and written by Meaghan Wilson Anastasios.

As I was born in New Zealand and went to a country school with many Maori friends I especially enjoyed the first section. I even have a copy of Cook’s famous map of New Zealand. I might put it up in the shop. It is a very readable book with informative remarks from interested people especially displayed throughout the text as well as excellent colour photographs.

There is a new book from Clare Wright who wrote The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka about the women involved in that famous episode. This new, much larger, book is called You Daughters of Freedom: The Australians Who Won The Vote and Inspired the World. Clare points out that World War I overshadowed the fame of Australia as a progressive reformist nation.

This new book is about the well-travelled activists such as Vida Goldstein, Nellie Martel, Dora Montefiore, Muriel Matters and Dora Meeson-Coates (who painted the famed banner carried in the British Suffragettes’ enormous marches in 1908 and 1911). These Australian women were amongst the leaders in the International movement for votes for women.

Both books are very readable. Here is an historian who can tell a good story!

Clare Wright

Robyn Williams, of ABC Radio's The Science Show fame, has just written his autobiography and given it the title Turmoil: Letters from the Brink. Like many of us in the later stages of interesting lives he wonders where the world is heading.

Many of his tales fall into line with the recent upheaval at ABC where management by email or cartoon seemed to have gained the upperhand. He enthusiastically sings the praises of young scientists in Australia and thinks he has had a very lucky life.

You will enjoy, as I did, some stories about famous scientists. The Science Show is on Radio National on Saturday at noon and repeated on Wednesday. Don’t miss it. Thank you Robyn and friends.

Turmoil: Letters from the Brink by Robyn Williams

I hope you pick up a copy of Abbey’s Christmas catalogue for 2018 which is in-store now. Inside the front cover there is a nice photograph of Abbey’s when we were in the Queen Victoria Building in George Street. Do you remember that comfortable shop? I think we have customers today who came along there with their parents. That was fifty years ago!

Abbey's on George Street in the QVB

Abbey's Summer Reading 2018 Catalogue

Keep well,

Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Friday, 5 October 2018

Notes from Eve Abbey • October 2018

 We're 50 this year!

I’ve been reading some really good novels, not the latest releases, most especially Ruth Park’s The Harp in the South. What a great writer! You can get Harp in the South at a good price as a Popular Penguin, but the typeface is old fashioned or you can choose The Harp In the South Novels which includes Missus, Harp in the South and Poor Man’s Orange. I’m sure if you have been to the Sydney Theatre Company production you will want to fill it all in. Pure enjoyment.

Photo credit: Daniel Boud

The Harp In The South: Popular Penguins by Ruth Park The Harp In The South Trilogy by Ruth Park

I was also given Steven Carroll’s latest version of T.S.Eliot’s private life in A New England Affair. Steven has made two previous imaginings in The Lost Life or in A World of Other People. All wonderful books. This latest one is so very sad it was hard to read.

I admire greatly the writing of Steven Carroll so must remind you again of the Glenroy series about a suburban family in Melbourne beginning in the Fifties. There are five novels now – the first is The Art of the Engine Driver, so check them out at Abbey’s or in your library. Unique style. Great writing.

A New England Affair by Steven Carroll The Art of the Engine Driver by Steven Carroll
The Gift of Speed by Steven Carroll The Time We Have Taken by Steven Carroll
Spirit of Progress by Steven Carroll Forever Young by Steven Carroll

Finally I have also enjoyed an expanded edition, of Anthony Hill’s Captain Cook’s Apprentice. It is 250 years since Cook’s momentous voyage into the Pacific , so important to us, so it is a good time to publish the expanded edition of this ripping novel. Isaac Manley, one of the servant boys on board was promoted to Midshipman and later became an Admiral so there will be lots to learn for anyone dreaming of a life at sea – both good and bad.

Captain Cook's Apprentice by Anthony Hill

Keep well,

Since 1968 ~ Abbey's 131 York Street Sydney ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers